Wisconsin Recognizes Injuries Occurring in the “Course Of Employment”

Wisconsin Recognizes Injuries Occurring in the “Course Of Employment”


For an injury to be covered for workers compensation benefits in Wisconsin, it must have occurred in the “course of your employment.” This means that the time, place, and circumstances under which the accident takes place must be considered.  It is liberally construed to favor all service that can in any sense be said to reasonably come within it.  This is good since so many of us have unconventional work settings and hours working from our homes, satellite offices, and cars.  Now more than ever, what the “course of employment” includes can be confusing.


According to Wisconsin Statute sec, the course of employment is determined by whether or not the injury occurred while the employee was performing a service growing out of and incidental to her employment.  102.03(1)(c ).  The most recognizable work injuries occur at or on the worksite, under the employer’s business roof, like in factories or office settings.  But what about when an employee is hurt on the job, but it occurs away from the traditional worksite?  The course of employment is read broadly to include many job situations and sites, such as the employee who slips and falls and injures his knee in the employer’s designated parking lot, even if the injury occurred before or after the shift.  Being in the designated parking lot is enough to be considered in the course of employment.


The Wisconsin injured worker does not have to be in work mode to recover workers compensation benefits.  Consider the employee of the worksite to run an errand directed by the employer.  If the employee has a motor vehicle accident with injury while picking up lunch for the company lunch meeting, their injuries will be deemed during employment.  The act of picking up the lunch furthered the interest of the employer, who directed a meeting over the lunch hour.

Other company get-togethers can also fall under the course of employment even if they appear recreational or party-like.  If the get-together is mandated, authorized, or directed by the employer, then injury occurring during it can be considered during employment.


During the Covid pandemic, we saw employees working from their homes more often.  An injury occurring at home, such as a fall resulting in an injury when taking the trash out to the curb for pickup, can be considered during employment.  This may seem surprising but think of it this way, the trash that was collected was, in part, because the injured employee works full hours from home, and has work equipment in their homes, such as a computer, files, desk, printer, and shredder.  The trash accumulating in the house is like trash in a work or office setting.  Ultimately, it will be a covered injury for Wisconsin workers compensation benefits if working from home was necessary for the employer rather than a complete convenience for the employee.


Injury to traveling employees, like those in sales, who suffer an injury during their travels, will be covered by Wisconsin worker’s compensation benefits, even if the injury occurs during off-hours.  Consider the traveling employee who meets with a client or co-workers for drinks after the workday and suffers a concussion due to a fall in the bar/restaurant.  This period of deviation will still be considered in the course of employment as long as the deviation is not purely private or personal to them.  It is generally accepted in Wisconsin that casual encounters with a co-worker or client while on a business trip are still in the course of employment.


Wisconsin recognizes that during a workday, employees will need moments or brief pauses from their duties to handle the various necessities of life and personal needs, such as using the restroom.  This is called the personal comfort doctrine.  Technically, the employee is not performing services for the employer. However, these breaks in the workday are justified because the employer receives an indirect benefit where their employees are personally comfortable.  Therefore, such deviations still fall into the course of employment category.   So, lunch and coffee breaks, smoking, and leaving the workstation for a drink of water or some fresh air while on the employer’s premises are not a deviation from consideration of being in the course of employment.


What about those situations where employers allow or even encourage frivolity in the work setting, such as ping-pong, darts, tossing the football, or a round of basketball during work hours?  Will injury occurring during such horseplay be covered for workers compensation benefits in Wisconsin?  The answer is a cautionary Yes, but the level of such horseplay needs to be considered.  The true answer will be situational with every case.  A review of the extent to which the practice or nature of the horseplay has or had become an accepted, or even expected, part of the employment must be analyzed.  So, if a lunchtime altercation breaks out during a game of darts and one co-worker intentionally throws a dart directly at another co-worker, causing injury. It is unlikely that workers’ compensation benefits will cover the such injury.  But if it is well-known and accepted that dock workers regularly throw around the football during slow periods of shipping and receiving, and a traumatic torn rotator cuff injury results, then this will likely be considered in the course of employment for workers compensation coverage.


Not every injury during work hours or in the workplace is compensable for workers’ compensation benefits in Wisconsin.  For instance, injury resulting from an idiopathic fall will not be covered for benefits.  Idiopathic is an injury that arises spontaneously for which the cause is unknown.  So, a Wisconsin injured worker who describes their fall at work as occurring without reason or explanation will be considered idiopathic and personal to them.  It occurs most often when the employee is walking and falls for no known reason.  It will be considered that the fall occurred due to their condition and not related to any condition, danger, or circumstance arising from the work or workplace.

Remember that every injury has its specific set of facts and nuances.  Feel comfortable and welcome to contact Attorney Lisa Pierobon Mays at Mays Law Office (608)257-0440/www.mayslaw.net to describe your situation for a free consultation.

What Are My Rights if I Slipped and Fell at Work in Wisconsin?

What Are My Rights if I Slipped and Fell at Work in Wisconsin?

What Are My Rights if I Slipped and Fell at Work in Wisconsin?

Slip and fall accidents are among the leading causes of job-related injuries according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC’s data indicate that 18% of all non-fatal work injuries result from slips, trips, and falls, with “floors, walkways, [and] ground surfaces” being to blame for 11% of all non-fatal workplace accidents.

So, what are your rights if you slipped and fell at work in Wisconsin?

The answer to this question depends on two main factors. The first is whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation. The second is what caused you to slip and fall.

Workers’ Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents in Wisconsin

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at work, you will want to find out if you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation . Workers’ compensation covers job-related accidents and injuries with only a few limited exceptions. As long as your slip was an accident (i.e., you did not intentionally try to hurt yourself), you weren’t intoxicated, and you weren’t engaging in horseplay, your accident should be covered as long as you are eligible to file.

A key aspect of workers’ compensation in Wisconsin is that it covers employees’ job-related injuries on a “no fault” basis. This means that you do not need proof of employer fault to file a claim. If you slipped and fell at work and you are an eligible employee, this is enough to establish your right to benefits.

When you have a workers’ compensation claim, the benefits you can collect depend on the severity of your injury. If you need medical attention but are able to return to work immediately (or within three days), then you are entitled to medical benefits only. However, if you are forced to miss work for four days or longer, then you may be entitled to receive temporary disability benefits as well. These benefits provide coverage for up to two-thirds of your lost wages (depending on your current weekly income) until you are able to return to work.

If your injuries are severe, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation services through workers’ compensation as well. These additional benefits allow you to see a certified vocational rehabilitation specialist who can help you regain your strength and mobility if necessary.

Seeking Additional Compensation for a Slip and Fall Accident at Work

While workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, many slip and fall accidents result from a property owner’s or business’s fault. If a company is to blame for your injuries, you may have a claim for additional compensation outside of workers’ comp.

With that said, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you probably can’t sue your employer. Employers that comply with Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law are generally immune from employee lawsuits for personal injuries. However, if your employer wrongfully denies your claim, then you can (and should) take legal action to enforce your rights.

Fortunately, most employers lease their facilities from other companies, and property owners are not protected against lawsuits from their tenants’ employees. So, if you slipped and fell because of a property-related issue at work, there is a reasonable chance that you could have a claim outside of workers’ compensation.

Proving this type of “premises liability” claim is much more involved than proving a workers’ compensation claim. You need to be able to prove that the property owner was negligent, and you need to be able to prove that its negligence caused your slip and fall accident. But, since it is possible to recover far more through a premises liability claim than you can recover through workers’ compensation (if you were seriously injured), it is well worth discussing this option with your lawyer.

Additional Factors that May Impact Your Legal Rights After a Workplace Slip and Fall Accident

While your workers’ compensation eligibility and the cause of your accident are the two main factors that determine your legal rights after a slip and fall accident at work, there are other factors that will impact your legal rights as well. Some examples of these factors include:

  • How Soon You Reported Your Slip and Fall Accident At Work – Under Wisconsin law, you must report your accident to your employer within 30 days in order to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Reporting your accident promptly can also help with proving that you have a premises liability claim.
  • How Soon You Sought Medical Treatment After Your Accident – Seeking medical treatment promptly is important as well. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier it will be to link your injuries to your slip and fall accident.
  • Whether Your Doctor Accepts Workers’ Compensation – While Wisconsin law allows you to see your own doctor when you have a workers’ compensation claim (this isn’t the case in other states), you need to see a doctor who accepts workers’ compensation insurance. If you didn’t see a doctor who accepts workers’ comp, you may need to choose another provider for the remainder of your care.
  • What Evidence is Available – While workers’ compensation provides “no fault” benefits, you still need evidence that you got hurt at work. If you have a premises liability claim as a result of your slip and fall accident, you will need evidence of the property owner’s negligence and the total costs of your injuries as well.
  • Whether You Hire a Lawyer to Represent You – Given all of the rules that apply and the challenges involved in filing a successful claim, it is best to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will be able to assist with all aspects of asserting your legal rights—from proving your workers’ compensation eligibility to calculating the long-term costs of your injuries.

Discuss Your Workplace Slip and Fall Accident with a Madison Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Were you injured in a slip and fall accident at work in Wisconsin? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your legal rights with Madison workers’ compensation lawyer Stephen E. Mays in confidence, call 608-257-0440 or request an appointment online today.